|ITEM||Statuette of a rabbit|
|CULTURE||Chinese, Han Dynasty|
|PERIOD||206 B.C – 220 A.D|
|DIMENSIONS||143 mm x 134 mm x 310 mm|
|CONDITION||Good condition. Includes Thermoluminescence test by QED Laboratoire (Reference QED2205/EC-0146)|
|PROVENANCE||Ex Hong Kong art dealer, acquired on the art market|
The Han dynasty was founded by Liu Bang (best known by his temple name, Gaozu), who assumed the title of emperor in 202 BCE. Eleven members of the Liu family followed in his place as effective emperors until 6 CE (a 12th briefly occupied the throne as a puppet). In 9 CE the dynastic line was challenged by Wang Mang, who established his own regime under the title of Xin. In 25 CE the authority of the Han dynasty was reaffirmed by Liu Xiu (posthumous name Guangwudi), who reigned as Han emperor until 57. Thirteen of his descendants maintained the dynastic succession until 220, when the rule of a single empire was replaced by that of three separate kingdoms. While the entire period from 206 (or 202) BCE to 220 CE is generally described as that of the Han dynasty, the terms Xi (Western) Han (also called Former Han) and Dong (Eastern) Han (also called Later Han) are used to denote the two subperiods. During the first period, from 206 BCE to 25 CE, the capital city was situated at Chang’an (modern Xi’an), in the west; in the second period, from 25 to 220 CE, it lay farther east at Luoyang.
The four centuries in question may be treated as a single historical period by virtue of dynastic continuity, for, apart from the short interval of 9–25, imperial authority was unquestionably vested in successive members of the same family. The period, however, was one of considerable changes in imperial, political, and social development. Organs of government were established, tried, modified, or replaced, and new social distinctions were brought into being. Chinese prestige among other peoples varied with the political stability and military strength of the Han house, and the extent of territory that was subject to the jurisdiction of Han officials varied with the success of Han arms. At the same time, the example of the palace, the activities of government, and the growing luxuries of city life gave rise to new standards of cultural and technological achievement.
China’s first imperial dynasty, that of Qin, had lasted barely 15 years before its dissolution in the face of rebellion and civil war. By contrast, Han formed the first long-lasting regime that could successfully claim to be the sole authority entitled to wield administrative power. The Han forms of government, however, were derived in the first instance from the Qin dynasty, and these in turn incorporated a number of features of the government that had been practiced by earlier kingdoms. The Han empire left as a heritage a practical example of imperial government and an ideal of dynastic authority to which its successors aspired. But the Han period has been credited with more success than is its due; it has been represented as a period of 400 years of effective dynastic rule, punctuated by a short period in which a pretender to power usurped authority, and it has been assumed that imperial unity and effective administration advanced steadily with each decade. In fact, there were only a few short periods marked by dynastic strength, stable government, and intensive administration. Several reigns were characterized by palace intrigue and corrupt influences at court, and on a number of occasions the future of the dynasty was seriously endangered by outbreaks of violence, seizure of political power, or a crisis in the imperial succession.
It is likely that the original purpose of the figure was that of a mingqi, terracotta figures designed to be included in a burial in order to accompany the deceased in the afterlife for protection, service and companionship.
They included daily utensils, musical instruments, weapons, armor, and intimate objects such as the deceased’s cap, can and bamboo mat. Mingqi also could include figurines, spiritual representations rather than real people, of soldiers, servants, musicians, polo riders, houses, and horses. Extensive use of mingqi during certain periods may either have been an attempt to preserve the image of ritual propriety by cutting costs, or it may have a new idea separating the realm of the dead from that of the living.
Though these were particularly popular during the Tang dynasty (618-906 AD), mingqi from a broad range of historical periods have been found, with this piece acting as a particularly early example of the practice.
汉朝由刘邦（以其庙号 “高祖 “最为著名）建立，他于公元前202年称帝。刘氏家族的11名成员在他的位置上成为有效的皇帝，直到公元6年（第12个成员曾作为傀儡短暂地占据过皇位）。公元9年，王莽对王朝血统提出了挑战，他建立了自己的政权，名为 “信”。公元25年，汉朝的权威被刘秀（谥号光武帝）重新确认，他作为汉朝皇帝一直统治到57年。他的13个后代一直维持着王朝的继承，直到220年，一个帝国的统治被三个独立王国的统治所取代。虽然从公元前206年（或202年）到公元220年的整个时期通常被描述为汉朝时期，但西（西）汉（又称前汉）和东（东）汉（又称后汉）这两个术语被用来表示两个次时期。在第一个时期，从公元前206年到公元前25年，首都位于西部的长安（今西安）；在第二个时期，从公元前25年到公元前220年，首都位于更东边的洛阳。